Since 2008 Global Brigades has been working with Peace Corps Volunteers in Panama through a Partnership Agreement with the Peace Corps Panama’s office. Up to date approximately 115 brigaders from 10 different brigades have supported 10 PCVs communitarian projects impacting more than 300 beneficiaries directly. Currently, Business Brigades and Law Brigades have been the programs requested the most by Peace Corps Volunteers, however the future looks promising for Environmental Brigades.
List of Global Brigades/Peace Corps Partnership Projects
Business Brigades: GBB Northwestern supported Etno-Tourism Projects at Puerto Lara, GBB UCLA Etno-Tourism Project at Embera Puru, GBB UPenn Etno Tourism Project at San Cristobal, GBB UT Austin, Ornamental Flower Project – In partnership also with Earthtrain, at Valle Mamoni and GBB Texas A&M supported Chocolate Business at Rio Oeste between 2008 and 2010.
Law Brigades: With the help of a Panamanian Lawyer, students helped create the materials for a personeria jurídica to form a community’s NGO, they also discussed Human Rights and presented Conflict Resolution techniques useful for addressing internal issues. *The lawyer is paid by the students to follow-up on the pending legal paper work. GLB Seattle University supported the registration of their NGO in Embera Drua, while GLB UC Berkeley did the same in Embera Puru.
Type of worshops implemented by the students for the community members:
Business Brigades: Accounting, Marketing, Cost Benefit Analysis, Roles & Responsibilities, Future Business Projections, etc.
Law Brigades: Conflict and Resolution workshops, creating the Personería Jurídica frame work (coordinated with the help of Panamanian lawyer)
Type of Investments done on brigades:
GBB Northwestern CIF used in: create a website for the community: www.puertolara.com, buying equipment for etno-tourism cabins (mattresses, mosquito nets, sheets, kitchen supplies) and printing out brochures to distribute in hotels.
GBB UCLA CIF used in: office equipment from etno-tourism business.
Texas A&M CIF used in: equipment for Cacao business (infrastructure and processing it to chocolate), health permission and accounting books, among others.
GBB UPenn: buying equipment for etno-tourism cabins and marketing materials.
GLB’s use their CIF to pay the Panamanian Lawyer to continue doing the legal paperwork the community’s project requires.
Testimony by PCV Joanna Hitchner from Puerto Lara Darien.
“Working with Global Brigades as a Peace Corps Volunteer brought a well-rounded approach to the tourism project that I was undergoing in my town. Normally lacking resources and education, my community felt the value of the university students when they trained and provided small donations to the tourism organization. They came equipped to present on topics that I proposed and to give small donations towards making marketing and infrastructure improvements. The university students were well-prepared to immerse themselves in the culture and they had various discussions on how to improve the tourism business even before stepping foot in the community. And, when they arrived, they hit the ground running by making personal connections with the people and teaching them about customer service skills that would improve their business in the long-term.
The Northwestern Global Brigades Students made a large impression and when they came back a few months later for a second time, the community already knew what to expect from the students and their friendships and working relationships were easily rekindled. They made huge improvements such as making a website, creating brochures, and buying small infrastructure supplies (beds, mosquito nets, utensils) that refurbished the small hotel and made them a more competitive business in the area. I had an amazing time with the university students and our partnership in training and putting few resources to good use proved successful in helping the small business flourish.” -Joanna Hitchner PCV Puerto Lara, Darién